Back in September 2014, we explored the possibility of workers’ compensation benefits extending to employees that suffered emotional trauma on the job. Now, a new discussion about its specific applicability in first responder circumstances has emerged. According to Bluffton Today, a first responder claiming workers’ compensation benefits in South Carolina would need to have been directly involved in a traumatic event during the scope of their employment to qualify for benefits. [Read more…] about PTSD Workers’ Compensation Up for Discussion in SC
Many people, incorrectly, attribute workers’ compensation claims only to those in dangerous, labor-intensive, manual labor-type occupations. However, the vast majority of employers are required to carry workers’ compensation insurance, regardless of the relative level of danger involved in that particular job description. In fact, according to the “rule of thumb” the South Carolina Workers’ Compensation Commission provides, “any employer who regularly employs four or more workers full-time or part-time is required to have workers’ compensation insurance.”
Office Jobs Have Hidden Dangers
Any job has the possibility of dangerous conditions, whether it be spilled liquids, things that can be tripped over, or things that can fall down. Construction employee injuries are often more “cut-and-dry” so to speak, in that it is often clear when someone is working in their official capacity and when they are not. With office jobs, there may be a question of whether something was a “hazard or special condition peculiar to [the employee’s] employment,” as was the concern of a recent South Carolina office worker’s claim.
This recent local case demonstrates the complexities of workers’ compensation law. The woman claiming benefits tripped over a rug at her place of employment, and alleged that she was entitled to benefits for pain in her neck, shoulder, and side that she attributed to the fall. The South Carolina Workers’ Compensation Commission initially denied the injured worker benefits, dismissing her argument that since she was at work when the incident occurred she should necessarily be entitled to such benefits.
The Commission initially denied her claim, and the South Carolina Court of Appeals agreed with the Commission. However, on final appeal to the South Carolina Supreme Court, the Court ultimately determined that the woman was, indeed, entitled to benefits. The general standard for workers’ compensation claims is that a person is entitled to claims if they were injured during the scope of their employment, that is, they were doing something under the direction of their supervisor or within their typical daily duties at the time they were injured. The South Carolina Supreme Court noted that the lower court and Commission decisions failed to focus on this standard, but rather erroneously questioned whether tripping on the rug was something “peculiar” to that line of work, which, of course, it is not. Applying the general standard, the Court came upon the rightful conclusion that since she was injured at work, during the scope of her employment, she should be entitled to benefits.
South Carolina Workers’ Compensation Attorneys
Of course, receiving workers’ compensation benefits is not quite that simple. There are strict reporting laws that have non-negotiable timelines that must be followed to receive compensation under South Carolina law. Having an experienced workers’ compensation attorney on your side that is familiar with the ins and outs of the application process can greatly improve your chances of having your application accepted and your benefits dispersed quickly. If you or anyone you know has been injured in a work-related accident, regardless of your line of work, contact the Solomon Law Group’s convenient Columbia, South Carolina office to learn more about your legal rights as an employee.
In 2012, there were 4, 628 workers were killed on the job, according to statistics from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, and there were obviously several thousand more who suffered workplace injuries. In fact in 2012, there were 62, 213 accidents filed with the South Carolina Workers’ Compensation Commission, with over 60,000 of those being new cases.
Types of Workplace Injuries
Usually, when we think of someone getting hurt on the job, we think of a physical injury to the body. Someone may fall off of the back of a truck or develop repetitive motion injuries or get hit by falling objects, or be injured due to any number of incidents. Additionally, workplace violence is one of the leading causes of workplace injuries in America. Almost 2 million workers report incidents of workplace violence each year. Unfortunately, many more cases go unreported.
It is a sad reality that many workplace accidents and violent encounters occur that result in physical injuries. But what if someone is injured mentally from an extraordinary circumstance at work? Is a mental injury covered under workers’ compensation in South Carolina?
Are Mental Injuries Covered?
The South Carolina Workers’ Compensation Act, found in Section 42-1-160(b) of the South Carolina Code of Laws, Title 42 addresses this by stating that “stress, mental injuries, and mental illness arising out of and in the course of employment are not considered a personal injury unless the employee establishes by a preponderance of the evidence.” Thus, while it is not impossible to cover mental injuries under a workers’ compensation claim, it may not be as cut and dry as say a broken arm, pulled disc, or neck strain.
Therefore, if mental injury is caused by stress from standard conditions of employment, the injury will not be covered. Some standard events that are not considered extraordinary causes of stress include, but are not limited to: demotions, furloughs, work evaluations, performance improvement plans, pay cuts, wage freezes, transfers, promotions, salary reviews, or terminations.
Ultimately, mental injuries are covered only if they are either directly “induced by physical injury…or by unusual or extraordinary conditions of employment.” This test is similar to the analysis applied to a workplace heart attack or stroke. In accordance with these guidelines, the stress and anxiety related to working in a high pressure environment is not covered, unless it is the result of the occurrence of something out of the ordinary.
Contact a South Carolina Attorney
In the unfortunate event that you, or someone you love, suffer a workplace injury, be it mental or physical, it is incredibly important that you speak with an experienced workers’ compensation attorney so that you can get the right advice in a timely manner.
Our firm has assisted countless workers fight for their rights in receiving the just compensation they are owed under the law. We have experience, passion, and knowledge, and we are ready to serve your needs. Contact the legal team at the Solomon Law Group today in order to discuss your available legal options. Please call us toll free at 877-323-3120.
Worker’s Compensation, which is often referred to as worker’s comp, refers to a series of laws that support somebody who is injured at work. Often time, worker’s compensation includes making sure that an individual has access to appropriate medical care, financial resources in the case of lost wages, and rehabilitation services in order to return to the workforce. In addition, there can be benefits eligible to surviving members of a family if somebody dies on the job.
In South Carolina, worker’s compensation is compulsory, which means that employers are required by law to provide worker’s compensation to employees. An employer may decide to cover their employees through a private insurance carrier or self-insurance. However, special employment situations may alter the eligibility of residents in South Carolina. For example, employers with fewer than four employees are exempt from the state’s regulation that ensures worker’s compensation. There are additional exemptions on worker’s compensation for agricultural and domestic workers.
Disability due to Workplace Injury
If you are living with a disability after experiencing a workplace injury, your medical bills and lost wages may be covered under worker’s compensation. There are two types of disabilities that are covered by worker’s compensation, including temporary total disability and permanent total disability. In South Carolina, temporary total disability allows employees to receive an amount that is determined by the worker’s wage at the time of the injury, is subject to a weekly maximum, and can continue up to five-hundred weeks. Similarly, permanent total disability is also based on a worker’s salary at the time of the injury, is subject to a weekly maximum amount, but payments may only continue up to three-hundred forty weeks. There are special considerations for permanent disfigurement of the face, head, neck, or other areas normally seen during employment, which may alter the amount of money received by the survivor of the injury. The filing deadlines can often be complicated for receiving worker’s compensation and you can be supported through the process to make sure you receive the benefits you deserve.
Worker’s Compensation Due to Death
If you have lost a spouse due to a serious workplace injury that resulted in death, you and your children may be eligible for significant benefits. Worker’s compensation after death is based on the person’s wage that experienced the injury. Often times, worker’s compensation covers some of the costs associated with burial, in order to make the burden of the sudden loss easier on the family.
At the Solomon Law Group, we know that injuries can have series emotional consequences for surviving family members, as well as a significant financial impact on the family. We are happy to answer any questions that prospective clients have related to this type of litigation. The firm works alongside a team of litigation attorneys to make sure that we are obtaining justice for our clients. To see if you have a case or for a free review of your situation, you can call us toll free at 877-323-3120.
We head to work each day assuming that our day will be routine. But if you are injured at work, your day is anything but routine. In reality, thousands of workers are injured every day while on the job. In 2012 alone, over 2.9 million cases were recorded. The most common type of workplace injuries are sprains, cuts and bone fractures, though these are not the only reported injuries.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (part of the Department of Labor [DOL]) tracks job-related injuries, illnesses and fatalities. This information allows the DOL to understand when and how workers are injured. The data is also shared with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) for use in their efforts to make our work environments safer. Three classifications are tracked: injuries (94.6% fall into this category which includes cuts, a strained back, etc.), occupational illness (5.2% of reports are from things like repetitive motion injuries or contact dermatitis), and fatal injuries (<.2% refer to any injury that results in the workers’ death).
Over 900,000 reported claims involved days away from work in 2012. The most common injuries listed are:
- Sprains, strains and tears accounted for 38% of injuries that resulted in days away from work in 2012. Of this group, 63% of injuries resulted from overexertion and bodily reaction and 23% from slips, trips and falls. Back injuries were common complaints.
- Musculoskeletal disorders accounted for 34% of injuries involving days away from work. Shoulder injuries accounted for the most lost days, followed by injuries to the abdomen, then wrist. Many of those injured in this group work as laborers, freight, stock and materials movers; janitors; nursing assistants and nurses; tractor trailer drivers; and maintenance and repair workers.
- Soreness and pain from non-specified injuries accounted for more than 15% of days away from work.
- Other injuries resulting in days away from work were reported less often, but included bruises and contusions, broken bones, amputations, burns, and tendonitis, among others.
While occupational illness is reported at a much lower rate, it is important to mention this category. It includes such things as respiratory disorders (for example, black lung or asbestosis), poisoning, skin disorders, endocrine disorders, or any other illness that was the result of exposure while on the job.
Sadly, over 4,000 workers were killed on the job in 2012. The most common cause of fatal work injuries reported were roadway incidents (24%); falls, slips and trips (15%); and homicides (10.6%).
If you have been seriously injured at work or a loved one has died while on the job, you should speak with an injury attorney. Our Columbia based injury attorneys offer a free consultation so you can learn your rights. Call us today to learn more.